Tragic Details About Shannen Doherty

The following article mentions domestic abuse and substance abuse. 

Shannen Doherty may have been one of the most controversial TV stars of the 1990's but there's much more to her than just being the person everyone used to love to hate. For one, Doherty has had a successful run in Hollywood, considering that she began her career way back in 1982 as a child star. The Memphis, Tennessee native got her first recurring role on the show "Little House on the Prairie," before the teen sensation "Beverly Hills, 90210" launched her into fame years later when she was 19. After that, it was her starring role in the hit TV series, "Charmed" from 1998 to 2001 that was another pivotal point in her career, despite the more than 80 other credits on her long resume.

While it's clear Doherty has the talent to last this long in the entertainment industry, it was apparently her reputation for being a bad girl that made her more famous. That's because back in the early days of her career she frequently made headlines for her hard-partying, on-set feuds, rocky romances, and occasional bad attitude, which these days doesn't necessarily seem fair. Doherty even told Parade, "The irony is that, if I was doing the same stuff now, I wouldn't be getting the attention."

Regardless, Doherty said she's learned from everything she's gone through, which has made her into the woman she is today. However, she's had to overcome more than her fair share of hardships in life. So let's break down those tragic details about Shannen Doherty.

Shannen Doherty got stuck with a bad reputation at a young age

Shannen Doherty had an especially challenging time in Hollywood because she was widely known for being difficult to work with since her "Beverly Hills: 90210" days. That's when she first became notorious for fighting with her co-stars and behaving unprofessionally on set. While Doherty has since owned up to her mistakes, it seems a lot of her wild antics had actually stemmed from her not knowing how to deal with problems she had her personal life then as a young adult. " A large portion of it was a misunderstanding," she later told People.

Some of the things that the tabloids would say about Doherty were also either apparently blown way out of proportion or flat-out untrue. She explained to The Sydney Morning Herald, "You're being written about on a regular basis and 98% of it is complete lies, so it's very hard to read about yourself and not have a reaction." Doherty went on to point out how that all happened before social media too, which means she couldn't even defend herself against unflattering headlines.

It can also be assumed that this type of negative attention led Doherty to be passed up for many acting roles or opportunities that she would have had otherwise because of her talent. Her former co-star, Tori Spelling, broke it down to Us Weekly, saying, "She had an unfair rap ... Once they gave her that label, it lived with her, her whole career, and that's unfortunate."

The Charmed star was in an abusive relationship in her early 20s

The 1990s were clearly a challenging time for Shannen Doherty for a variety of reasons and in 1993 one of them was because she was in a toxic relationship. At age 21, the "Our House" star was briefly engaged to Dean Jay Factor, the heir to the makeup brand Max Factor. Their romance ended in disaster though since, per People, Factor took out a restraining order against Doherty. In court documents, he not only alleged that she threatened him with a gun, but before that had tried to run him over with her car and had thrown a log through his home window.

Doherty called the allegations that she was a violent person untrue, while her father claimed that it was Doherty who had been the one physically abused by Factor. "He initiated the charge, but she's the victim," he said, adding how he believes a black eye she came home with after a trip with Factor was from him hitting her. Factor denied it before the two came to a legal agreement. However, the damage to Doherty's reputation was done, with her making headlines for being "Out of Control." 

While Doherty never addressed a personal experience with domestic violence, she did later work with a charity that helps survivors. In 2010, she hosted the Annual Artists Against Abuse Gala. She told Broadway World, "It is an honor to support a charity that offers preventions and counseling to women ... and try to end domestic abuse."

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Shannen Doherty struggled with her father's sicknesses and death

Shannen Doherty has always come across as pretty tough but she apparently had a soft spot for her father, John Thomas Doherty. Sadly, John battled serious health issues throughout most of Shannen's life. In 2008, she told The Chicago Tribune in tears, "He's had eight heart attacks, seven strokes, quintuple-bypass heart surgery," adding that he was on dialysis too because his kidneys had failed. It was unsurprisingly a lot for Shannen to deal with, which is why she said she was "acting out" as a way to avoid her pain earlier in her career.

What seemingly made matters worse was that no one knew what Shannen was going through, especially when she was on "Beverly Hills, 90210." She explained to People, "Somebody had a problem with me being late, but perhaps they didn't know I was late because my dad was in the hospital ... I didn't share, or I wasn't asked." Shannen, however, was more open about her dad's health struggles later in life when she appeared on "Dancing With the Stars" as a tribute to him. She credited his ability to overcome a horrific stroke that left him speechless and immobile as her motivation to compete.

John died in 2010 soon after she was on "DWTS" at age 66. According to the Daily Mail, Shannen said in a statement that she was "beyond devastated" to lose the man she described as her "rock" and "best friend." She even added that she couldn't picture her life without him.

Shannen Doherty got in trouble with the law

It's one thing to be a Hollywood bad girl but it's a whole other thing to actually get in trouble with the law, which is what happened to Shannen Doherty on more than one occasion. It appears that all started in 1993, when a then-21-year-old Doherty was cited for misdemeanor battery after allegedly fighting with another actor at a nightclub. Later in 1996, Doherty was arrested for vandalism after she was accused of throwing a beer bottle at a car while outside of a bar. 

While those two brushes with the law weren't good for Doherty and her already tarnished reputation, her next arrest apparently hit her the hardest. That's because in 2000, she spent several hours in jail after she was arrested for drunk driving. "It's probably one of the most humiliating, degrading experiences you can ever go through," she told People (via ABC News) adding, "It's affected my career; it's affected the way I look at myself."

Doherty went on to do community service where she picked up trash and warned teens about the dangers of drunk driving. While she expressed regret over her decision to drive after she had a few drinks that night, she denied that she ever had a drinking problem. She seemingly had been personally affected by alcoholism though. She told Us Weekly (via Digital Spy), "I accompanied my husband to AA meetings — actually, I forced him to go to one — but I've never actually gone for myself."

The Heathers actor left two TV shows on bad terms

Shannen Doherty had more than her fair share of harmful career setbacks because she didn't always play nice. While that sounds unreasonable nowadays, Doherty's behavior was rumored to have gotten her fired from the two TV shows that made her a star ... "Beverly Hills, 90210" and "Charmed." It's unclear if Doherty was ever actually terminated from either series, but it appears she at least felt pushed out and left on bad terms.

Regarding Doherty's "Beverly Hills, 90210" departure, she admitted to EW that she was miserable and didn't want to be on set. The show's creator, Aaron Spelling, however, claimed that she constantly distressed her co-stars. "She thought it was time to go. And the cast did too," he explained. Spelling's daughter and Doherty's co-star, Tori Spelling, blamed herself for Doherty's firing because she had complained to her dad about Doherty. She recalled on "Celebrity Lie Detector" (via Distractify), "I felt like I was a part of something ... a movement ... that cost someone their livelihood."

Things weren't much better on the set of her next major show, "Charmed," because Doherty reportedly didn't get along with her co-star, Alyssa Milano, there. According to TV Guide, the actors started out friendly but eventually had a falling out that apparently resulted in feelings that one of them had to leave the series. That turned out to again be Doherty, who later told ET, "There was too much drama on the set and not enough passion for the work."

Shannen Doherty's house burnt down in a wildfire

Shannen Doherty was dealt an unexpected blow in 2018 after her home burnt down in the Woosley Fires. The wildfire-ravaged areas of Southern California, destroying thousands of structures and killing three people. One of those structures was Doherty's Malibu home. While many of her personal possessions were presumably destroyed, what seemed to be worse for Doherty was that she lost a place that had so many special memories for her. She took to Instagram to post that it was where she had gotten married in 2011 and where she stayed after her father died. "It's the place I felt my dad with me. It's gone ... I'm devastated by all that's happening. My heart is ripped apart," she wrote.

Fortunately for Doherty though, she wasn't home at the time of the fires so she wasn't injured. Neither were her pets since her friends were able to evacuate them in time. In another post about the fires, she expressed her gratitude for that, writing, "I'm so grateful that the people I love are safe and my dogs and horse are safe." Doherty went on to thank the firefighters too and send prayers to those who did lose loved ones.

Doherty had to deal with the fallout from the blaze for a while, however, since she publicly battled her insurance company, State Farm, when they wouldn't fund the repairs to her home. In 2021, she was finally awarded over $6.3 million in damages after taking them to court.

The BH 90210 star has serious health problems

Shannen Doherty has dealt with some serious health problems over the years which had to take a toll on the "North Shore" star. In 2015, a then 44-year-old Doherty announced that she was battling breast cancer, which spread to her lymph nodes. It was, of course, a devastating diagnosis, yet she told ET that it was what she didn't know that scared her. She elaborated, "Is the chemo going to work? ... You know, am I going to have to go through this again, or am I going to get secondary cancer?"

Doherty went on to explain that her pain was "manageable," but she found getting a new bra after a mastectomy and losing her hair very traumatic, with both experiences leaving her in tears. While her cancer later went into remission in 2017, she admitted on "Good Morning America" that she was afraid it would come back in the future. Yet Doherty was determined to find a silver lining. "It made me a better human being. It takes down all your walls, all your barriers, everything that life sort of threw at you," she said.

Unfortunately for Doherty, cancer wasn't her only medical problem since she disclosed back in 1999 that she had the inflammatory bowel disorder, Crohn's Disease. Doherty wasn't as open with that diagnosis though because of its stigma. She told Star Magazine (via Fox News) that she was embarrassed over her bathroom habits which were a symptom of the disease, saying it was unsexy to discuss with others.

Shannen Doherty has been unlucky in love

It's no secret that Shannen Doherty has been unlucky in love, having had two failed engagements and three marriages that ended in divorce. The "Defunct" actor first got engaged in 1991 when she was just 20 years old to real estate manager Chris Foufas. That didn't last long considering that by 1993 she accepted a proposal from Max Factor heir, Dean Jay Factor, which as previously mentioned, didn't end well either. Just months later, she finally got married for the first time, to actor Ashley Hamilton. Unfortunately, though, Doherty's curse continued, and by 1994, they were divorced.

Doherty's next husband probably sounds familiar because in 2002, she wed Rick Salomon, who became infamous for his 2004 sex tape with Paris Hilton. While Doherty had their marriage annulled before that, she told The Chicago Tribune, "It ended up being very embarrassing for me." Doherty later revealed to Parade that she was well aware that she had bad taste in men. "It's like, 'Why did I pick these men?' I guess it was about what I thought I could do to help them," she explained.

By 2011 though, it seemed like Doherty finally found her happy ending when she married photographer, Kurt Iswarienko. Doherty gushed about how he had been there for her during her cancer battle, which is why it was shocking when she announced in April 2023 that they split. She even suggested it was because he cheated, by saying through her publicist that his agent was "intimately involved."

Shannen Doherty was devastated by Luke Perry's death

Shannen Doherty may have put "Beverly Hills, 90210" in her past but it appears her former co-star, Luke Perry, always remained special to her. That's probably why she was completely devastated when he died in March 2019 at age 52 after suffering a massive stroke. Doherty took to Instagram to divulge her feelings about his shocking death, writing, "I'm struggling with this loss and am having a hard time with my thoughts." She later reiterated to People that her heart was broken, especially considering that they had reconnected in recent years. "Luke reached out to me during my cancer journey and we picked right back up, albeit older and wiser, but that connection remained intact," she said.

Once Doherty had more time to process her friend's death, she seemingly realized that she wanted to find ways to pay tribute to Perry. She decided to do so by taking part in their former show's reboot, "BH90210," even though she originally didn't want to do it. She explained in another interview with People, "Things drastically changed for me and I felt like it was a great opportunity to honor him." 

Doherty also appeared on Perry's last TV show, "Riverdale," which she said was difficult for her emotionally but important for her to do for him. Even years after his death, she's continued to honor Perry too, like when she posted an old photo of them together on her Instagram Story to mark the third anniversary of his passing.

The star continued her acting career while battling Stage 4 cancer

Shannen Doherty was hit with another blow when her breast cancer came back at Stage 4. She announced its recurrence on "Good Morning America" in February 2020, saying, "It's a bitter pill to swallow in a lot of ways." While Doherty admitted that she wondered why it had happened to her, she claimed that she would carry on fighting and continue to receive treatment.

Doherty had initially kept her Stage 4 cancer diagnosis a secret though, so she could stay working because acting had brought her comfort. Yet, she decided to share the news before it was mentioned in a public lawsuit that she was engaged in at the time. It seems it was not only important for Doherty to share her journey in her own words, but to also educate others about the disease. She explained at a virtual panel, per People, "I feel like I have a responsibility in my more public life ... to talk about cancer and ... let people know that people with stage 4 are very much alive and very active."

Since her announcement in 2020 about her cancer, Doherty kept her fans updated on her cancer battle on social media, even sharing her symptoms and side effects of her treatment. She also wrote on Instagram that she's improved her outlook by finding humor in difficult situations.

Shannen Doherty didn't get to have children

If Shannen Doherty's cancer battle isn't heartbreaking enough, it's also prevented her from becoming a mother. Doherty had first told Dr. Oz about that in 2016 when discussing how her cancer medication made it impossible for her to get pregnant. "I'm 44 and my husband and I wanted children," she said, (via the Daily Mail). It was something that Doherty thought she had time for before her diagnosis, with her telling ET in 2012 at age 41 that she and Kurt Iswarienko eventually wanted kids, saying jokingly, "I may be the oldest woman to have a child."

Doherty later told Health Magazine (via the Associated Press) that she and her husband had looked into getting an egg donor as well as adoption, but that her cancer was still holding her back from becoming a parent. She blames her Stage 4 diagnosis, saying it's because she doesn't know how long she has to live. She doesn't want a child to have to experience the pain of her death if she were to pass sooner than later. "I certainly wouldn't want my 10-year-old burying a mother," Doherty explained. However, she did add, "Maybe I'm supposed to mother in a different way."

That kind of positive spin has become typical for Doherty these days, since she's frequently expressed her gratitude for life, despite all the tragic things she's been through. 

Shannen Doherty announced her cancer spread to her bones

In November 2023, Doherty shared devastating news about her breast cancer. In an exclusive interview with People, Doherty announced that her cancer had spread to her bones. "I don't want to die," Doherty told the magazine. "I'm not done with living. I'm not done with loving. I'm not done with creating. I'm not done with hopefully changing things for the better."

While the health announcement was certainly not welcome news, this occurrence is more common than you might think. In fact, according to Susan G. Komen, about half of people with breast cancer who have metastasis experience it in the bones first. It may be one of many, or the only site of metastases seen in this type of cancer. Bone metastasis can also increase the risk of pain, bone fractures, and reduced mobility.

So far though, this diagnosis hasn't stopped Doherty from trying to make a difference. She even launched a new podcast called "Let's Be Clear with Shannen Doherty" in December 2023. "I know it sounds cheesy and crazy, but you're just more aware of everything, and you feel so blessed," she told People about her cancer status and how it has changed her outlook on life. "We're the people who want to work the most, because we're just so grateful for every second, every hour, every day we get to be here."